Manual RECOVER YOUR GOOD HEART - Living Free From Religious Guilt and the Shame of Not Good-Enough

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I got out of it by volunteering during the mass by teaching children the gospel in an age appropriate manner. The kids would draw or make crafts after the lesson. I told her it was very nice of her. The boy cried for the rest of the lesson and I was flabbergasted at how religion is taught to our youth. There are three different heavens. Dawkins is absolutely right. This is traumatic for a child to hear and she was upset for several days. As if those words were not enough, we in Sunday school were shown horrific pictures that depicted human suffering in hell, resulting in many nightmares as I grew up.

Two weeks after that, I rode my bike to the courthouse and filed papers that I was officially leaving the church. As a result of this taunting or religious bullying, my younger son was afraid to go to sleep and had nightmares.

Steps to Christ

Needless to say, they are not playing with this child anymore. I educated myself and am now free. When I was younger I wanted to be a missionary and spread the word of God. I used to be terrified of every little thought I had. I used to cry at night fearing that while I dreamed id have a dirty thought and miss the rapture. I used to physically hurt myself to do my best to prevent myself from thinking sexual thoughts. The fear of hell was horrible. It dictated every aspect of my life.

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The way I acted, dressed, thought, everything. I was as Christian as possible. In my teens I managed to get some time to think for myself. I got into a pretty bad car wreck.


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Yet over and over god kept getting the praise for my survival. I was bed ridden for quite a while and did plenty of reading. I had a biology textbook with me and read it as unbiased as I possibly could, and that was that. No more christianity for me. And so much happier with my quality of life. Everything is better. Life is sweeter. And knowledge, not dogma, is what I strive for. My sister of course experienced significant brain damage through meningitis and became disabled. I was escorted shouting and crying from that assembly.

How to Free Yourself from Guilt and Shame

I remember a youth group leader asking me once why he never saw my parents on Sundays. I was absolutely devastated. I cried and prayed For them every night. At 8 or 9 years old, my parents were my whole world, and the thought of them burning in hell forever was terrifying. I eventually got old enough to know better, but I vividly remember the terror I felt, and I would never wish that feeling on anyone, especially a child. That is why now that I have kids of my own, they are not allowed to go to church groups with friends.

The last thing I want is my children crying themselves to sleep in fear over my soul. I remember long fitful nights terrified by the thought of my father being sent to hell simply for not believing. Funny thing was, he is a warm gentle beautiful soul with a strong moral compass and generous nature. An awesome nurturing and respectful father and husband.

My mother was deeply depressed, volatile, angry and unhappy.

Religious Trauma Syndrome: Trauma from Leaving Religion

The irony only dawned on me when I was substantially older and wiser. Not that I blame my mother. I was raised baptist. I was terrified for her. I prayed and cried on my knees for god to let her into heaven and I would go to hell in her place. Then I felt immediate shame and guilt once I realized that god could read my mind and would think I was actually being selfish and trying to trick him and that we would both go to hell because of it.

Every time I had an erection, sexual thought, or masturbated I was taught that I was essentially crucifying and breaking the heart of Jesus over and over…Feeling insane with guilt for torturing such a beautiful saviour, I sought counsel and was told that I had demons in my soul fighting for my etenal existense….

Christianity never had a real chance with me after that. That fear was just normal every day pain that we would never know the people around us when we went to heaven because none of them were as good christians as my mother. I hate this religion bashing. I was afraid of physical intimacy until I was in my mid 20s.

Even after I stopped believing that kissing with tongue was akin to premarital sex, I still had trouble becoming comfortable with sexuality. Sometimes, I find myself feeling guilty about things I do with my husband even though I know better. Hell, my husband and I are pretty vanilla by any standards except religious ones. I had a friend who went to vacation bible school with me and he woke up screaming for months because he was having dreams that he was burning in hell. I felt so bad for him. When I was 6, the Sunday school teacher told me that people who smoke would not make it to Heaven.

My grandfather smoked back then. I had nightmares for weeks. As a child, my religion both fed and subdued my mental disorders: God is always watching you. Thirty years later, I had to be hospitalized due to a mental breakdown. I told the doctors that my greatest fear was going to Hell, despite being an Atheist.

Introduction

Some childhood monsters follow you forever. They gave me these Watchtower booklets to read. I remember reading a story about a girl who forgot to bless her food before she ate. Unfortunately for her there was a demon curled up in a piece of lettuce on her plate and after eating it she became possessed. I remember praying everynight after that for God to bless everything i would eat the next day.

I was terrified the same would happen to me. One day when I was 13 I got tired of being afraid and I embraced atheism. Felt more like terrorism. What an abhorrent being. I had an interest in Biology and Evolution, and struggled to reconcile what I learnt about those with what I was being taught in religious education class. I was also struggling with my sexuality, which my religion teacher taught was a way for God to test our faith, and that God would still love us, so long as we never acted on any sexual feelings towards other men that we may have had.

Eventually, I got the courage to ask…why was God punishing me, and did he have good reason? Sure, I was having doubts. But how could I not? Was it really just for God to punish me when I actually wanted to serve him? It gave me the freedom to look at the world and myself with clear eyes and question my morality. If so, why? How is my being gay harming anyone else?

Without religion, I would not have had to go through years of believing that I was a bad person. Believing that I was being punished for questioning the existence of my apparent creator. I would have been able to develop a strong understanding of morality long ago. I was born into a heavily religious family, my grandma was a deep believer and grandpa was a paster.

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I would attend church services and was scared to death by the thought of burning in hell if I did not follow gods word. I did everything right, praying every night before bed and not saying a single swear word. My life was devoted to god until I entered pubescents. I started having feeling for girls, impure thoughts would come into my head almost all the time. I would try and fight these thoughts, I even looked into seeing a doctor about it.

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After a few years my worries increased causing me to be extremely anxious. I became mentally ill and had an episode that lasted nearly six months. When I was a child my mum told me that the devil would put a gun to my head and if I believed in god enough he would save me. In hospital I feared this was going to happen to me. The unpear thoughts lead me to believe I had evil me so I would hurt myself to try and get it out this resulted in me trying to take my life as a sacrifice so god would forgive me.